Colorado Scenic Byway: Silver Thread

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Colorado's Silver Thread Scenic Byway weaves through one remarkable story after another — some historical, others more nature-based. Along the way, you’ll pass through two historic districts (Lake City and Creede) and tracts of land so remote you’ll feel as though you’re trekking through the wilds of the 1800s. Here are some of the big draws of the magnificent Silver Thread byway:

Lake City not only serves as an outstanding base of operations for outdoor adventure, but also serves as one of the largest collections of preserved buildings from the 1870s. Stroll through the heart of town and you’ll quickly get a sense for Lake City’s authenticity.

• Just south of town is Lake San Cristobal, whose placid beauty has an unusual twist. Only 800 years old, this lake was formed when the Slumgullion Earth Flow naturally dammed the valley. You’ll notice the bizarre landslide to the southeast. Moving at the speed of molasses, the earthflow is the result of unstable soils that shift up to 20 feet a year. You’ll notice full-grown pine trees at off-angles — evidence that this lumbering slide is still at work.

• For a hidden treasure, keep your eyes out for Forest Road 510 on your left, just past Spring Creek pass. A short distance down the road affords views of gushing North Clear Creek Falls as it plummets from a willow-covered bench into a box canyon.

• The Colorado town of Creede was born on the wings of a flourishing silver market. In the summer, stop by one of the hallmarks of this era, the Creede Repertory Theater, which USA Today called “one of the 10 best places to see the lights way off Broadway.”

• Another fascinating attraction in Creede is the Creede Underground Mining Museum. Exhibits are offered in rooms and tunnels inside a mountain, giving you an authentic look at the subterranean life of miners.

• At the end of the trip, South Fork sits poised to greet you, and offers a great place to stretch your legs and reflect on the only-in-Colorado scenery you enjoyed throughout the trip. Gorgeous in its own right, South Fork is the perfect starting point for endless Colorado adventures, or as a place to sit and take stock of Colorado in its natural state.

Distance: 120 miles
Suggested Time: Allow 2–4 hours

Colorado is home to 25 Scenic and Historic Byways, 11 of which are also federally designated America's Byways. Read about all 25 in our Quick Guide to Colorado's Scenic & Historic Byways or view our virtual Colorado Byways Guide. You can also visit the Colorado Department of Transportation's Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways site.

Photos: Lake San Cristobal, Lake City (courtesy of the Lake City Chamber of Commerce/Chuck Chetwin), bridge over the Rio Grande.

Lake San Cristobal along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway near Lake City, Colorado
Lake San Cristobal near Lake City, CO
Fall descends on Lake City along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway, Lake City, Colorado
Fall in Lake City along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway, Lake City, CO
Courtesy of the Lake City Chamber of Commerce/Chuck Chetwin
The Rio Grande River along Colorado's Silver Thread Scenic Byway
The Rio Grande River along Colorado's Silver Thread Scenic Byway

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